[caption id="attachment_554" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Entrance to Dunsjömåla, means "bird life". "][/caption]

After 8 hours of driving to Virginia, 6 hours driving to Newark, 3 hours wait in the airport, 8 hours flight over the Atlantic and finally a 6 hour drive to the south, we are finally home again for the first time. Linda lived here her first 25 years before I sucked her into the United States for the next 12 of her life. But being out for so long, used to speaking English, starting a family in the US and all the various norms of living in America sort of put her in a nationalistic limbo. She is very proud to be Swedish (as most Swedes are), but loved a few things about the US and particularly, North Carolina. The most obvious being the glorious weather we are so used to having. Another being the wide variety of natural beauty throughout the US. We've sampled quite a bit these treasures and now regret not doing more.

All the beauty of America turned into a grotesque beast in recent years after struggling to raise a family here. Not that it is impossible, and we don't mean to sound whiny, but when you know it is better somewhere else in the world for children and families – by nearly all available metrics even – it is very frustrating when you live in the “greatest nation on Earth(tm)” and one of the wealthiest, too. Why can't America have similar standards as a less wealthy and much less powerful nation? I will most likely dive into these supposed benefits that I elude to in more detail once we start experiencing them for ourselves.

Coming here to live is, of course, a first for me the kids. There is no 'again' for us. But much has changed in over a decade since Linda was a resident here. Not quite sure what exactly, we'll need to experience it for a while to put our finger on it. We've only been here twice together. The first time over winter in 2004, before we had children. The second time in summer of 2006 when my oldest was only 6-7 months old. Each time was magical and Linda's family helped to make it very special for us.

For myself, I have a mentality that is not attached to place as much. I've felt at home in many places and tend to adjust easily. My family and close friends, though, see moving out of the United States as something more major than what it really is. How is different to live to 1000 miles away on the same continent than another 1 or 2 thousand miles away on another continent. Air travel is about the same and about as expensive. So, I don't really understand when people who see us only one or two times a year are sad we are leaving the country. Travel is travel, and Americans don't need a special visa to come visit Sweden. So, stop by and visit us when you are here! We'll take care of you (once we get our own place though!).

After we settled in Dunsjömåla, which is the name of Linda's parents' property in the Fårbo area of Småland, we were immediately beset with öl (beer) and introduced Peaches (our dog) and our kids to their swedish grandparents and Elsa (their dog). Elsa was very skittish at first but after an hour or so, Elsa and Peaches have become fast friends and are nearly inseparable now. It was real special to see Peaches so happy and have a friend.

Morfar Conny and Mormor Anne, on the other hand, are anything but skittish! They visited us in Pennsylvania in Autumn of 2007 several months after our daughter was born, so they have met the kids as babies (oldest, ~2 years and youngest, 5 months). But, of course, the kids have no recollection of them. But it didn't take them long now to understand how they are all connected to each other – that this is part of their family.

Swedish words of the day: Hem - home, igen (ee-yen)- again, familj (fam-eel) - family